By JENNIFER K. BAUER
Poe’s writings influenced scores of writers, from H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King. On Friday, Oct. 24 the Fourth Wall gallery of Lewiston and Abuzz Theatre of Clarkston will celebrate his legacy in An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe at the Orchid Room in Morgans’ Alley. The event will include appetizers, art inspired by Poe and readings of his work. Tickets must be purchased in advance (details at bottom of story).
While “The Raven” remains one of the world’s most popular poems, and tales like “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Black Cat,” are some of the most anthologized, Poe lived in poverty through years stocked with tragedy. Even after his mysterious death misfortune continued to assail his corpse.
An Edgar Allen Poe timeline
1809 Poe is born Jan. 19 in Boston to an actress named Eliza Poe and her husband, David, who deserts her. When Edgar is 2, his mother dies of consumption leaving him and a brother and sister dependant on the charity of strangers. The children were separated. Poe moves in with a foster family with the name of Allan.
1823 Poe falls in love with Jane Stannard, the mother of a school friend. A year later, Stannard dies, insane, and Poe takes to hanging out at her grave.
1836 At age 27, Poe marries his 13-year-old first cousin Virginia Clemm. He said she was 21. She dies 11 years later, like his mother, of tuberculosis.
1841 Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” a who-done-it crime story featuring a French detective named C. Auguste Dupin, is published. It is later credited as the world’s first detective story.
1845 “The Raven” appears in The New York Evening Mirror in minuscule type beside classified ads for real estate, knives, boots and shoes.
1849 At age 40, Poe is found outside a tavern on a Baltimore street wearing someone else’s clothes. He’s taken to a hospital where he dies four days later, on Oct. 7. Rabies, alcoholism and a brain tumor have all been blamed but another widely held theory is that he was on a drinking binge when he was hauled around the city and forced to vote repeatedly in an infamously corrupt Baltimore election and then left for dead. He was given a pauper’s grave. At a later point a derailed train smashed the headstone marking the spot.
1875 Poe’s body is dug out of his unmarked grave, given a new coffin and reinterred.
1949 A mysterious figure who comes to be known as the Poe Toaster makes his first appearance on Poe’s birthday to leave three red roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at the author’s grave. The Toaster returns yearly until 2009 when the visits cease.
1996 On March 29, the new NFL team in Baltimore is named the Ravens after the bird in Poe’s most famous poem.
2009 Poe lived in several cities during his life — mainly Philadelphia, Richmond, Baltimore, Boston and New York, which all lay claim to him in some way. Celebrations of his 200th birthday include candlelight vigils, catacomb re-enactments, “Mask of the Red Death” masquerades, “Unhappy Hours,” Poe poetry slams, Segway tours, scavenger hunts, life-size puppet shows, exhibits of 19th century dentistry (in honor of Poe’s story “Berenice,” where the narrator pulls out his beloved’s teeth) and more.
Sources: The New Yorker, New York Times, baltimoreravens.com, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian.
if you go
WHAT: An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe
WHEN: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24
WHERE: The Orchid Room, Morgans’ Alley, 301 Main St., Lewiston
COST: Tickets are $12.50 and must be purchased by 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Fourth Wall at 301 Main St., Suite 107, by calling (208) 743-9896, or online at www.thefourthwallgallery.com.
OF NOTE: Appetizers will be served and there will be a no-host bar.